During a trip to Maleny recently we stopped at the local bookshop, and I bought a copy of Tin Heart by Shivaun Plozza. My expectations for this book were high. I was a huge fan of Frankie. I remember reading it in my role as CBCA judge, and I immediately knew within a few pages that it was going to be a short-listed book. I was nervous about reading Tin Heart and can only imagine how Shivaun Plozza felt about writing and publishing ‘the difficult second book’. I was not to be disappointed, Tin Heart like Frankie is gritty, funny and moving.
One of the reasons that I loved Frankie so much was because she was a character that you both enjoyed and disliked. At times it was confusing to like Frankie because of her attitude and the choices she made, but deep down you knew that she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and there was no malice in her. Marlowe in Tin Heart is very similar to Frankie in this regard, but in every other way, they are different. When I talked to boys about the character of Frankie, I would say that she was the type of girl you should want to date or be best friends with and I also think Marlowe would make a great girlfriend/best-friend.
In her second novel, Tin Heart (Penguin), Shivaun Plozza tells the story of seventeen-year-old Marlowe who undergoes an organ transplant. Marlowe Jensen was The Dying Girl, and now she has a second chance at life, but Marlowe is finding it hard to move on with her new life when she now has someone else’s heart beating in her chest. She feels an overwhelming need to know more about her donor and so sets off on a quest to find her donor’s family, disregarding their request for no contact. Of course, Marlowe’s determination to get to know her donor and his family creates emotional chaos and sets in motion a chain of events that will impact on everyone around her.
Despite these strong themes, Tin Heart remains light-hearted and funny. It is gorgeously written and has a cast of engaging characters that will delight and charm you. There is Pip, Marlowe’s younger brother who likes dressing up in costumes but with a twist – gingham pinafore, red wig, combat boots and tiger-face paint (Jungle Anne of Green Gables, of course). Her mum, the vegan warrior who has just opened her dream vegan-organic-wellness store (Blissfully Aware) and who lives her life as vegan/mother warrior. Oh, and of course Blissfully Aware just happens to be next door to Bert’s quality butcher. Then there is Zan, the Chinese-Australian girl who is ‘the coolest of cool’. And Leo, the butcher’s son who Marlowe finds endearing and exasperating. Plozza has a gift for writing flawed but adorable characters that stay with you long after you finish the book.
Frankie was the novel that introduced us to Shivaun Plozza, and as readers, we quickly realise what immense talent she was, and Tin Heart only reinforces this and makes us understand that Plozza is a captivating voice in YA fiction and will continue to find a place in our hearts with her gorgeous books.